Coutinho sets sights on Copa America glory

The Liverpool man capped just his second start for his country with a fine solo strike in Brazil’s victory over Mexico and is ready to star in Chile

Philippe Coutinho has set his sights on helping Brazil to Copa America glory this month, regardless of whether he plays.

The Liverpool attacker has had to settle for a cameo role under coach Dunga, but made his claim for a starting berth on Sunday as he hit Brazil’s opener in their 2-0 victory over Mexico.

With Chlesea’s Oscar absent this month due to injury, Coutinho is now favourite to break into the first team in Chile but insists the entire squad will have a part to play.

“It is a great opportunity not only for me, but for the whole group,” Coutinho said. 

“The Copa America is a great competition. We are focused, no matter who plays. Our only concern is to get there in good form and win the tournament.

“Everyone is fighting for a place, which is very important. We are always seeking the best.”

Coutinho opened the scoring with a fine solo effort in Sao Paulo, before Diego Tardelli rounded off victory in Brazil’s first match on home soil since last year’s World Cup.

“I am very happy with my goal,” Coutinho continued.  

“When I received the ball, I saw the defender coming and just turned, without even touching the ball. Once at the byline, I imagined that the goalkeeper would dive so I tried the shot.”

The 22-year-old is now hoping to retain his place in the side for Wednesday’s Chevrolet Brasil Global Tour friendly with Honduras, which will be the Selecao’s final warm-up match before heading to Chile.

Di Maria's lob against Leicester City voted as Premier League's goal of the season

The Manchester United winger came out on top against Philippe Coutinho’s strike against Southampton in the final round of voting on the Premier League’s official Twitter page

Angel Di Maria’s scooped lob in Manchester United’s 5-3 defeat to Leicester City has been voted as the Premier League’s best goal of the season.

The Argentine’s effort topped the poll ahead of Philippe Coutinho’s strike against Southampton in the final round of voting on the Premier League’s official Twitter page.

To get to the final, Di Maria’s goal won the vote ahead of Jermain Defoe’s strike against Newcastle United and Charlie Adam’s effort inside his own half against Chelsea.

GOAL CUP And the 2014/15 Goal Cup winner is…

— Premier League (@premierleague) June 5, 2015

Di Maria struggled in his debut season at United after joining from Real Madrid for a British record fee of €75 million last summer but has insisted that he intends to stay at Old Trafford this summer.

“I have just finished my first season playing for Manchester United,” he told The Sun.

“It was a hard season for me. I think it was hard because it was another country and another league, and this league is harder than the Spanish one. So, I couldn’t adapt myself as I wanted to.

“Now I will play the Copa America and then I will move back to Manchester for next season and do my best there.”

A huge THANK YOU to the thousands who voted in the 2014/15 Goal Cup – take one more look at #GoalCupDiMaria…

— Premier League (@premierleague) June 5, 2015

Di Maria is currently training with the Argentina national side ahead of the Copa America this summer, with Gerardo Martino’s men to face Bolivia in a warm-up game on Saturday.

Ronaldinho: Coutinho would be a perfect fit for Barcelona

The World Cup-winning former Selecao star feels that the Liverpool man has all the right qualities to slot into the midfield at Camp Nou

Ronaldinho believes that Liverpool star Philippe Coutinho would fit in perfectly at Barcelona.

The Brazil international Coutinho has enjoyed a thoroughly impressive season at Anfield, earning a spot in the Professional Footballers’ Association (PFA) Team of the Year while also being voted as the club’s Player of the Season.

And two-time World Player of the Year Ronaldinho – who won two Liga titles and a Champions League trophy during his time with Barcelona – feels Coutinho would be a great addition for the club, with Xavi heading for the exit this summer and Andres Iniesta heading into the latter stages of his career.

“He has had a fantastic season,” Ronaldinho told The Daily Mail. “He has been one of the best midfield players in Europe. When you realise that he has been playing in a team that has not been performing well, that is an even bigger achievement.

“I can’t speak for him and I can’t speak for Barcelona, but I know what they look for in a player and he has all those qualities.

“After all those years at the club, Xavi has left and Iniesta is now in his 30’s – they will need to address that. That is why I think Barcelona and Coutinho would be the perfect fit.

“Playing with great players makes you better, I know that. Not only would he win trophies with Barca, but playing with Neymar, Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez and Iniesta is going to make him a better player.”

Coutinho has been included in Dunga’s 23-man Brazil squad for the Copa America and their first game is against Peru in Temuco on June 14.

Watch Ozil & Messi in action for Gatorade!

ADVERTORIAL: The Arsenal and Barcelona stars feature alongside their team-mates and the likes of Andrea Pirlo and Philippe Coutinho in the sports drink company’s spectacular film

Arsenal star Mesut Ozil and Barcelona forward Lionel Messi are among the players to feature in a spectacular new Gatorade film.

The duo take to the field with team-mates including Santi Cazorla, Joel Campbell, Pedro, Xavi and Jordi Alba to show off their skills.

Gatorade are the official sports drink providers of both clubs, as well as the likes of Liverpool and Juventus.

Also featured in the video is Philippe Coutinho, who stars alongside Reds team-mates Lazar Markovic and Javi Manquillo, and Juve playmaker Andrea Pirlo, who is joined by Angelo Ogbonna and Martin Caceres.

After some sensational passing, dribbling and tackling, one player hits the back of the net. Watch the video in full above to find out who!

Chelsea's Eden Hazard named PFA Player of the Year

The Belgium winger has inspired the Blues to what will surely be their fifth English top-flight title and beats off competition from David De Gea and Harry Kane, among others

Chelsea winger Eden Hazard has been named the PFA Player of the Year, beating stiff competition from Manchester United’s David De Gea and Tottenham’s Harry Kane.

Hazard has played a pivotal role in Chelsea’s march to the Premier League title this season, scoring 13 goals and laying on eight assists.

While some of his team-mates have fallen out of form in 2015 – suficiently so, in the case of Cesc Fabregas, to fall out of the PFA Team of the Year – Hazard has maintained the high level of form which he showed in the first half of the campaign.

Last weekend he scored the decisive goal against Manchester United at Stamford Bridge, which finally killed off Louis van Gaal’s faint hopes of winning the title, which came a week after laying on a late, important winner for Fabregas at Queens Park Rangers.

His eye-catching skills and important goals have given him the edge over his Premier League colleagues, including De Gea and Kane.

The United goalkeeper has been crucial to his team’s progression this season, particularly in the early months when he made a number of spectacular saves to help bail out a creaky defence as Van Gaal experimented with the team he inherited from David Moyes.

Tottenham striker Kane provided the most impressive competition for Hazard. The 21-year-old has scored 30 goals – 20 in the Premier League – in a stunning breakthrough season at White Hart Lane.

The Englishman has been a central member of Mauricio Pochettino’s Spurs project and he earned his first international call-up earlier this season as a result.

Liverpool playmaker Philippe Coutinho, Arsenal’s Alexis Sanchez and Chelsea striker Diego Costa, who has been hampered by injuries and suspensions in 2015, were also nominated for the award.

GOALSIX OF THE BEST  Chelsea dominate the PFA Team of the Year

Tottenham striker Harry Kane named PFA Young Player of the Year

The Spurs striker has scored 20 league goals so far this season – 30 in all competitions – to see off comeptition from Chelsea’s Eden Hazard and Manchester United’s David De Gea

Tottenham striker Harry Kane has been named the PFA Young Player of the Year, seeing off the challenge of Chelsea’s Eden Hazard, who has won the main award.

Kane has scored 20 Premier League goals in a stunning breakthrough season at White Hart Lane and beating Chelsea’s Eden Hazard and Liverpool’s Philippe Coutinho, who came second and third.

Having struggled to feature in the early months of the campaign under Mauricio Pochettino, Kane scored his first league goal at the start of November and has in fact reached his tally of 20 in just 25 matches.

The 21-year-old has scored 30 in all competitions for his club, and another one on his England debut just 79 seconds after coming off the bench against Lithuania at the end of March.

Last weekend he became the first Tottenham player since Gary Lineker in 1991-92 to score 30 goals in all competitions, and became the fourth Spurs man, alongside Teddy Sheringham, Gareth Bale and Jurgen Klinsmann, to hit 20 in a single Premier League season.

He also became the third man in history to score 20 league goals at the age of 21 or under, joining Chris Sutton and Robbie Fowler.

Those feats saw him installed as the early favourite to be named the best youngster in the division by his peers, and he has successfully overcome challenges from Hazard, Liverpool’s Philippe Coutinho and Manchester United goalkeeper David De Gea, who were all also nominated for the senior award.

Another Liverpool forward, Raheem Sterling, and Chelsea keeper Thibaut Courtois made up the six-man shortlist.

Six Chelsea stars named in PFA Team of the Year

Jose Mourinho’s Premier League leaders unsurprisingly feature heavily while there is also room for Harry Kane, Alexis Sanchez and David De Gea

Chelsea have dominated the PFA Team of the Year, with six Blues players named in the line-up, including Diego Costa, Eden Hazard and Nemanja Matic.John Terry, Branislav Ivanovic and Gary Cahill complete the list of Chelsea stars although there is no place in the team for Cesc Fabregas.

Arsenal have just one representative with Alexis Sanchez making the team while Liverpool are represented by Philippe Coutinho.

Manchester United’s David De Gea is the team’s goalkeeper while Tottenham striker Harry Kane and Southampton’s Ryan Bertrand complete the line-up.

Congratulations to the Barclays @PremierLeague PFA Team of the Year! #PFAawards

— PFA (@PFA) April 26, 2015

Hazard, Costa and Alexis head Player of the Year shortlist

The trio are joined by David De Gea, Harry Kane and Philippe Coutinho while Thibaut Courtois and Raheem Sterling make the Young Player of the Year list

The Professional Footballer’s Association (PFA) have announced their shortlist for this season’s Player of the Year award, with Chelsea duo Eden Hazard and Diego Costa heading the list.

The pair are joined by Manchester United’s David De Gea, Arsenal’s Alexis Sanchez, Liverpool’s Philippe Coutinho and Tottenham’s Harry Kane.

There is no place, however, for the likes of Nemanja Matic, Cesc Fabregas, Sergio Aguero or Morgan Schneiderlin.

Hazard, De Gea, Coutinho and Kane are also nominated for the Young Player of the Year prize alongside Chelsea’s Thibaut Courtois and Liverpool’s Raheem Sterling.

The winners will be announced on April 26.

PFA Player of the Year shortlist: Diego Costa (Chelsea), Philippe Coutinho (Liverpool), David De Gea (Manchester United), Eden Hazard (Chelsea), Harry Kane (Tottenham), Alexis Sanchez (Arsenal).

PFA Young Player of the Year shortlist: Thibaut Courtois (Chelsea), Philippe Coutinho (Liverpool), David De Gea (Manchester United), Eden Hazard (Chelsea), Harry Kane (Tottenham), Raheem Sterling (Liverpool).

Coutinho up there with the very best – Rodgers

The Liverpool manager was full of praise for the Brazilian midfielder after his “outstanding” performance in the Reds’ 2-0 victory over Newcastle at Anfield

Brendan Rodgers believes that Coutinho is up there with the “very, very best” after his “sensational” display in Liverpool’s 2-0 victory over Newcastle United on Monday night.

Goals from Raheem Sterling and Joe Allen secured all three points for the Reds, who moved within four points of fourth-placed Manchester City in the race for Champions League qualification.

But it was the Brazilian who was singled out for praise by his manager after the game.

“I thought he was incredible tonight,” Rodgers told reporters. “I thought he showed that he’s really up there with the very, very best in the most competitive league in the world, which is the Barclays Premier League.

“I played him in that role just in front of the centre-halves, thinking that we could exploit the space in between their midfield and the centre-halves and create space for players to make runs in behind. I thought he was sensational.

“He’s a young player who came in, we only paid €12 million for him, and it was purely due to them, Inter Milan, needing funds. It was nothing to do with his ability. I’d seen him play as an 18-year-old in the Champions League with top-class players, so he was a kid that always had the ability.

“But he’s become stronger, become more tactically aware and I think you see him now really orchestrating the game for us. It was an outstanding performance tonight, he ooked very fit and strong, and he’s had a wonderful season.”

Aguero and Sterling star in Terry's PFA Team of the Year

The Chelsea captain – unable to pick his Blues team-mates – has picked his XI, with the likes of Sadio Mane, Harry Kane, Sergio Aguero and Ryan Bertrand all featuring

Chelsea captain John Terry has named his PFA Team of the Year, with rumoured Blues target Raheem Sterling included as well as four Southampton players.

With players unable to pick their team-mates, Terry has sprung a few surprises, as Nathaniel Clyne, Jose Fonte, Ryan Bertrand and Sadio Mane all feature in his XI.

In goal, David de Gea gets the nod ahead of Tottenham star Hugo Lloris, while Laurent Koscielny partners Fonte in the heart of the defence.

Two Liverpool players are also selected, with Philippe Coutinho and Sterling – who Jose Mourinho recently advised Liverpool to sell – named in midfield, along with De Gea’s Manchester United team-mate Juan Mata.

Up front, Spurs striker Harry Kane – who scored twice against Chelsea in a 5-3 win on New Year’s Day – joins Manchester City’s Sergio Aguero, who has hit 23 goals in all competitions thus far this season.

Morgan Schneiderlin, however, may feel unlucky to have missed out on Terry’s team, given his fine form this season, while Alexis Sanchez – who has enjoyed a superb debut season in the Premier League – is another notable snub.